Imaan at Reading Pride 2016 – text of speech

On Saturday 3rd September, we made a surprise appearance at Reading Pride! Mas Naina, Imaan volunteer gave an impassioned speech about the challenges of being LGBTQ Muslim. Here’s the text of his speech. If you would like an Imaan volunteer to speak at your event, please email imaanlgbtq@gmail.com

reading prideAssalaamu Alaikkum. Peace be upon you.

I bring greetings from Imaan, the support group for LGBT Muslims. Imaan was founded in London in 1999 to address the needs of Muslims who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Thank you for having us here today.

After Orlando, we have seen so much homophobia and Islamaphobia, and it is important for us to come together and stand united as one community. Say no to hate as one community. To stand up to both homophobia and to Islamaphobia

For me, coming together at Pride like this has always been a very political statement.

I remember when I was 11 years old, walking down the road carrying my baby cousin in my arms, when a random guy stopped us, called us terrorists, and spat on me and the little child i was carrying.

What hurt me the most was not him calling us terrorists. It was not him spitting on us. It was not even the tears from my cousin’s face. What hurt me the most was the deadly silence from the people who were standing nearby, witnessing the event, but they did not dare to speak up for us.

That place of loneliness I felt that day, that feeling of isolation, that feeling of having no voice is not a place anyone should have to face.

That is a place many of us have been before. Some of us are still there.

When you grow up as an LGBT person, it can be very lonely. You feel all alone. You feel you’re the only one. You feel you are a weird person with these strange feelings. You feel utterly powerless.

Add to that, being a Muslim and tackling Islamophobia at the same time. Strangers who did not stand up for me that day are now too busy telling my mum what to wear to the beach. It becomes an unbearable situation, a feeling of loneliness and powerlessness.

That is where organisations like Imaan come in.

After googling “Is it OK to be gay and Muslim” and skipping past the first 9 results saying no, a lucky few eventually find us, and we support our members through these difficult moments.

Showing them they are not alone.

Showing them it is OK to love God, and love whoever you want to love at the same time.

Most importantly, showing them it does get better.

Imaan is run entirely by volunteers, and it’s at times like this that our resources are put to the test. I would encourage you all to not be a bystander like the others that day, to and if you can help tell one more LGBT Muslim it is OK to be who you are, and take them out of that sad, lonely place, you would have made such a big difference to that person’s life.

To find out more on how to support us, tweet us at @IMAANLGBTQ

Thank you.

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